Wednesday, July 29, 2009

AEJMC: Sports Interest Group Meeting

I'm at home this week painting a bedroom/bathroom (tip for those of you interested in painting--don't do it with your loved ones). While painting, it dawned on me that AEJMC starts next week in Boston (maybe I should be thinking of painting instead).

As we have mentioned before, there is a movement to get a sports interest group started within AEJMC. If you are interested please try to make an informal get-together to discuss specifics. It will be Thursday, August 6 at 9:30 at the Champions Sports Bar inside the Marriott (a short walk from the convention hotel the Sheraton).

Marie Hardin of Penn State is leading the effort to create the interest group and can be reached at if you have any questions.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Another Twist to the Story

The Erin Andrews story becomes more interesting every day. Now, respected sportswriter Christine Brennan has thrown in her two cents.

Brennan wrote on her Twitter (!) account that:

Women sports journalists need to be smart and not play to the frat house. There are tons of nuts out there. Erin Andrews incident is bad, but to add perspective: there are 100s of women sports journalists who have never had this happen to them.

To say the least, Brennan's comments created a firestorm of negative publicity. Bill O'Reilly's show on Fox last night did a lengthy interview segment, and other media pundits have weighed in criticizing Brennan for suggesting that Andrews was "asking for it." Some have gone as far as to say that Brennan is jealous because of Andrews' popularity with male viewers.

But I agree with Brennan.

First of all, let me make clear that it's impossible to condone the criminal activity that took place against Andrews, and I certainly don't think that's what Brennan is saying. The point is that a great deal of Andrews' popularity and success has come from her looks. Lots of media outlets (including Coed Magazine and Playboy) have polls where people (read: men) can vote for the "Sexiest Sportscaster in America," and Andrews always ranks near the top of these contests (to my knowledge, I don't believe there is a "Sexiest Male Sportscaster" contest). Watch any ESPN event where she is broadcasting and you'll see hordes of young males ogling her while she's on-air.

I'm not being naive here; this is the way the world, and especially the world of sports media, works. But at the same time, women in the professional sports media industry have struggled mightily to overcome these stereotypes--the idea that they can only succeed because of how they look--since the days of Phyllis George and Jayne Kennedy on CBS in the 1970s [See, for example, Hardin, M. & Shain, S. (2005). Strength in numbers? The experiences and attitudes of women in sports media careers. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 82(4), 804-819 and Sheffer, M.L. & Schultz, B. (2007). Double standard: Why women have trouble getting jobs in local television sports. Journal of Sports Media, 2, 78-103].

There's no reason to think that Andrews plays up her sexy image, but at the same time she hasn't necessarily discouraged it, either. For whatever reasons in our culture, you can't have it both ways--sexy and respected. Again, this is no fault of Andrews'; she has certain assets that have helped her in a sports broadcasting career and she has used them to her advantage. But as long as we live in a culture that sexually objectifies the female body, this tension is going to exist. Andrews didn't do anything wrong, but she should necessarily be surprised that something like this happened.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Andrews (New York) Post-Mortem

Either executives and ESPN read this blog (doubtful) or more likely the sports media giant reacted to mounting media outrage (highly likekly) against the New York Post. ESPN announced that it will not allow anyone from the Post to appear on its outlets in wake of the newspaper's publication of the Erin Andrews photos. "While we understand the Post’s decision to cover this as a news story, their running photos obtained in such a fashion went well beyond the boundaries of common decency in the interest of sensationalism,” ESPN senior vice president of communications Chris LaPlaca said in a statement Wednesday night.

The Post had no immediate reaction, but the Andrews pictures remain on the paper's website.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mixed Messages

By now you probably know all about the situation surrounding ESPN reporter Erin Andrews. Known as much for her beauty as her sideline commentary, Andrews was videoed surreptitiously while changing clothes in an Orlando hotel room. The naked images were posted online, where interestingly some links to the photos may be responsible for spreading a computer virus.

Almost without exception, the sports media have rallied around Andrews and characterized the photographer as a sleazy peeping-tom. So far, so good. But many of the same media outlets are also publishing links or copies of the pictures! What a mixed message. One one hand these outlets are telling us, "This is a terrible thing ... how could anyone do such a thing?" But behind their back they seem to say, "It may be bad, but hey, these are nude pictures! The people have a right to know!"

Boy, talk about the right hand not knowing what the left hand it doing. Please, sports media, don't lecture us about the evils of society while at the same time taking any and all opportunities to make a buck through exploitation.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Old School

I didn't have a lot of time to watch sports on television this past weekend, but a couple of observations from what little I did get to see--

*It will be interesting to see what kind of ratings the British Open got on ABC. Typically, tournaments without Tiger Woods do poorly in the ratings. Tiger missed the cut this weekend; perhaps the compelling story of 59-year-old Tom Watson leading going to the final hole was enough to overcome that. The Open usually suffers from the time disparity and the fact that sometimes the drama is already over by mid-morning U.S. time.

*As soon as Watson missed a putt on 18 that forced a playoff ABC put up a watermark in the upper left hand corner for the rest of the telecast. That's not unusual, but the watermark said "ESPN." It seems that ESPN now has more branding cache than it's big brother.

MLBN continued with its replays of All-Star games past (although I hardly think the 1995 game counts as an all-time classic). I caught some of the 1971 game, which was a home-run fest won by the American League (including Reggie Jackson hitting a home run that would have completely left Tiger Stadium if not for hitting a light tower). Several things jump out at you after watching a 38-year old telecast--

*Obviously, the technology was not as developed, but NBC still managed to catch all the important plays. The viewer really didn't miss anything (maybe except for Jackson's home run hitting the light tower, but that was more the fault of the cameraman who underestimated just how far Jackson had hit the ball) and there were some good closeups of the action. Today's technology is almost overkill, with its constant search for new camera angles and fly-in graphics.

*The game moved incredibly fast. As soon as the catcher caught the pitch he threw it back to the pitcher who then pitched it right back. Batters didn't step out of the box on every pitch and the game moved at a brisk pace. I think the slowness of the game today is almost directly attributable to television. Every pitch today is analyzed with several sl0-mo replays, while in the '71 game only the hits and good fielding plays were replayed. Over the course of the last 30 years players have become accustomed to this slower pace. Pitchers step off the mound as regularly as batters step out of the box.

*Another thing that seemed to keep the game moving--the lack of in-game ads and promotions. Incredibly, the announcers talked about the game and not an upcoming show on NBC or some product placement.

Call me sentimental, but watching that type of game on television made me yearn for the good 'ol days.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A-Twitter over Sports Media

Tweet ... tweet. There has been a lot of mention in the sports media lately about Twitter, especially in terms of how popular it has become for athletes. But there is another side to the Twitter story... namely, how it is changing (or not changing) how sports journalists do their jobs. Just as NBA players can Tweet during a game, so can sportswriters. They can also use it to contact sources, confirm information, break sports news and promote their work on other platforms.

As part of a new research project, Dr. Mary Lou Sheffer at Southern Mississippi and I are investigating how sports journalists are using Twitter. We don't have any hard data to pass along yet, but some interesting preliminary findings have emerged--

*Twitter appears to be used much more by newspaper/print sports reporters than broadcast (radio and TV).

*Like many new media technologies, Twitter is more often used by younger journalists rather than older ones.

*Sports reporters are firmly multi-platform journalists. The same reporters who have a Twitter account usually have a blog, and also cross back and forth between multiple sports outlets.

It's too early to tell whether Twitter will catch on and become a permanent tool for the sports reporter, or whether it is more of a fad that will eventually fade out. Please feel free to share your thoughts about Twitter and its impact on professional sports journalism ...

Monday, July 06, 2009

Happy 6th of July

Hope everyone had a safe and happy Fourth. A couple of things to get your 6th of July going ...

Paul MacArthur of Utica College is looking to put together a panel for next year's BEA focusing on Sports Radio. If you have any sports radio papers you want to present at BEA next year, please let him know. Current sports radio issues/research and sports radio history welcome. Just send Paul a quick synopsis of what your proposed paper by July 15, 2009. You can reach him at: or 315-792-3348.

Also, there is a CFP for the third annual Scholarly Colloquium on Intercollegiate Athletics. The theme is "College Sports in Recessionary Times: Assessing Challenges and Opportunities." If you're interested, e-mail an abstract of no more than 300 words to John Thelin at Deadline for the proposal is October 1; the conference takes place next January 12-13 in Atlanta.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

CFP: 3rd Summit on Sport Communication

I wanted to pass along the call for the 4th Summit on Sport Communication, which will take place March 18-20, 2010 in Cleveland. I hope you had a chance to go to one of the first summits, which were terrific opportunities to share sports research and meet new colleagues. Please be aware the deadline is a little earlier this time around (October 1). You can find more information on the Summit here.

Call for Papers
Fourth Summit on Communication & Sport
Thursday, March 18 ­ Saturday, March 20, 2010
Embassy Suites, Downtown - Cleveland, Ohio
Co-hosted by Kent State University and Youngstown State University

In keeping with the tradition started at the third Summit, some of the best research submitted and presented at the Summit will be published in a special issue of Journal of Communication Studies. Papers will undergo blind peer review, with approximately4-5 articles selected for publication.

All scholars currently exploring communication and sport are encouraged to submit the following:

• Abstracts (200-500 words) to be considered for presentation at the Summit.

• Full-length manuscripts (7,000-10,000 words, APA style) to be considered for both the Summit and the special issue of Journal of Communication Studies.

• Full-length manuscripts (7,000-10,000 words, APA format) to be considered for only Summit presentation.

Up to two submissions from the same author will be considered for review.

Submissions should be emailed in Word format to Amy Crawford at no later than October 1, 2009 (any submission with an email date stamp after October 1 will not be considered). Please indicate if you would like your piece to be considered for publication in the special issue of Journal of Communication Studies.

Presenters will be notified of presentation acceptance via email by December 1, 2009. Space will also be allotted for non-presenting attendees. Any inquiries regarding the event can be directed to Adam Earnheardt ( or Barbara Hugenberg ( However all inquiries concerning paper submissions should be directed to Amy Crawford at